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Human Variation: A Genetic Perspective on Diversity, Race, and Medicine

Subject Area(s):  Human Biology and DiseaseGeneticsOrigin and Evolution of Life

Edited by Aravinda Chakravarti, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Institute of Genetic Medicine

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© 2014 • 131 pp., illus. (21 4C, 5B&W), index
Hardcover •
ISBN  978-1-621820-90-1

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Since the appearance of modern humans in Africa around 200,000 years ago, we have migrated around the globe and accumulated genetic variations that affect various traits, including our appearance, skin color, food tolerance, and susceptibility to different diseases. Large-scale DNA sequencing is now allowing us to map the patterns of human genetic variation more accurately than ever before, trace our ancestries, and develop personalized therapies for particular diseases. It is also reinforcing the idea that human populations are far from homogeneous, are highly intermixed, and do not fall into distinct races or castes that can be defined genetically.

This book provides a state-of-the-art view of human genetic variation and what we can infer from it, surveying the genetic diversity seen in Africa, Europe, the Americas, and India. The contributors discuss what this can tell us about human history and how it can be used to improve human health. They also caution against assumptions that differences between individuals always stem from our DNA, stressing the importance of nongenetic forces and pointing out the limits of our knowledge. The book is thus essential reading for all human geneticists and anyone interested in how we differ and what this means.


Perspectives on Human Variation through the Lens of Diversity and Race
Aravinda Chakravarti
What Type of Person Are You? Old-Fashioned Thinking Even in Modern Science
Kenneth M. Weiss and Brian W. Lambert
Social Diversity in Humans: Implications and Hidden Consequences for Biological Research
Troy Duster
Demographic Events and Evolutionary Forces Shaping European Genetic Diversity
Krishna R. Veeramah and John Novembre
Genetic Variation and Adaptation in Africa: Implications for Human Evolution and Disease
Felicia Gomez, Jibril Hirbo and Sarah A. Tishkoff
A Genomic View of Peopling and Population Structure of India
Partha P. Majumder and Analahba Basu
How Genes Have Illuminated the History of Early Americans and Latino Americans
Andres Ruiz-Linares
Can Genetics Help Us Understand Indian Social History?
Romila Thapar
Race in Biological and Biomedical Research
Richard S. Cooper
Personalized Medicine and Human Genetic Diversity
Yi-Fan Lu, David B. Goldstein, Misha Angrist, and Gianpiero Cavalleri


review:  “...overall this volume is an excellent resource summarizing the fascinating genetic history of Homo sapiens. Highly recommended.”